Robert P. Madison started his architectural firm in Cleveland on July 17, 1954. When it opened its doors it was the first African-American architectural firm in Cleveland and one of the first, if not the first, African-American owned and operated firm in Ohio. Madison's offices were located directly across the street from Cleveland State University and he watched as the campus grew and developed over time. Eventually, after years of working to establish the credentials of his firm in a white-dominated profession, Madison was able to secure the contract to design Cleveland State's Science II Building. In this interview Madison relates stories of Cleveland State's early years and the process of bidding on the Science II contract as well as the construction of the building itself. Of particular interest is his discussion of securing property in Shaker Heights and building a home there despite the restrictive covenants designed to prevent African-Americans from doing so. Also, Madison relates his experiences working with Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson to organize the city's African-American architectural firms to construct Atlanta's airport in the late 1970s-early 1980s.


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Madison, Robert P. (interviewee)


Wickens, Joe (interviewer)


CSU at 50



Document Type

Oral History


57 minutes

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License
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